Violinist Gil Shaham, a Chicago favorite and Urbana native, returns to the Midwest for a concert Aug. 10 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Ravinia. With David Zinman on the podium, Shaham will be the soloist in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
He has a long history with this piece, and recently recorded the Prokofiev for the second installment in his 1930s Violin Concertos Project. Launched in the 2008-09 season, the project explores what musicologists have called “an incredibly rich decade” for this type of work. More than 30 violin concertos materialized over these years, with more than a dozen entering the standard repertoire. At age 13, Shaham first publicly performed Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto with the Israel Sinfonietta while a U.S. tour. He had learned the concerto from an edition of the score marked with the fingerings of virtuoso David Oistrakh.
”I have really cherished the conversations I have had discussing this score with legendary violinist Isaac Stern, who recounted conversations [he] had with Prokofiev himself,” said Shaham in the liner notes for the project’s second volume, released in February on his own label, Canary Classics. Though he had recorded the work before, he explained that over time ”things grow in your head, and the way you feel about the music changes.”
The Prokofiev is paired on this disc with Bartók’s Second Violin Concerto. Both works reflect a turbulent decade; in her liner notes, Claire Delamarche observes that “these two concertos bear the mark of an idealism that could only have emerged from a world in crisis, like flowers blossoming on a battlefield.”
For more information about the Ravinia concert, which also features Brahms’ Symphony No. 4, click here.